Fall River native’s band finds big hit on cruise ships

FALL RIVER — When former Fall River police officer TJ Nowicki decided to spend his retirement playing in an ’80s cover band, he had no idea it would take off like this.

“We have been very, very blessed,” he said.

Nowicki, originally from Fall River and now a resident of Westport, left the force in 2019. Around the same time, he assembled a group of local musicians to form the Strip back in the daywhich covers artists like Journey, Van Halen and Styx.

“We hope that everyone who comes to see one of our shows will relive their memories of the 80s,” he said. “We really reach out and try to involve our audience in every show we put on.”

In 2019, Nowicki sent a promotional package to a talent agency in New Jersey. A few weeks later, they received their first offer to play as entertainment on a cruise ship with Norwegian Cruise Line. They lined up a few more cruise ship gigs soon after, traveling to places like the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

The group was on a ship in the Caribbean when the pandemic hit.

“We came back the week before all ports closed,” Nowicki said. “We were very lucky.”

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The composition of the group has changed in recent years. Now it consists of Nowicki on keyboard, Scott Cooper on lead vocals, Tom Walason on bass and Amos Sanfilippo on guitar, with his son Nicco Sanfilippo playing drums as the band travels on cruise ships and Brian Johnson playing drums when playing locally.

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The pandemic put the cruise industry on hold for a while. But starting earlier this year, Back in the Day returned to Norwegian and booked a new gig with cruise line Royal Caribbean.

They are now performing as a lead theater actor for Norwegian, which Nowicki described as a “really big step up” from the shows they were doing in 2019.

Local 80s cover band Back in the Day started performing on cruise ships again earlier this year after going on hiatus due to the pandemic.

They also continue to play at casinos like Twin River in Lincoln, RI, and Foxwoods in Connecticut, venues in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, and local locations like the Oriental Pearl in Westport and Renegades in Warwick, Rhode. Island.

Their next local gig is Wednesday, July 20 at 6 p.m. as part of the Somerset Recreation Department’s Summer Concert Series in Peirce Beach. Then in August, it’s back on a boat.

“We are complete until the end of the year,” Nowicki said. “We live for today, not for tomorrow because we don’t know how long it will last. We just enjoy each moment as it comes.

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Audrey Cooney can be reached at [email protected]. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News today.

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